A consultation draft released to a select group of business groups, scientists and environment organisations has highlighted the lack of real reform planned by the Albanese Labor Government. The draft National Environment Standards, underpinning the yet-to-be-released new environment laws, fail to address flaws highlighted in the 2020 Samuel Review, instead locking in the core failures of the current failed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 that has been in place through a period of the escalating number of species listed as threatened and approaching extinction.
Since the EPBC Act came into force in 2000, around 500 additional species have been added to the lists of threatened species, 8 million hectares of habitat have been cleared and extinctions have continued.
“Labor went to the election promising the Lamborghini of environment laws. This draft shows that we are just getting our old, clapped-out Datsun back,” said Bob Brown Campaigner Scott Jordan.
“This process is environmentally fraudulent. We oppose it. Australia’s new environment legislation should prohibit the exchange of habitat for money. Offsets are a scam because, in this world of extinction calamity, excusing the destruction of one habitat by not destroying another habitat, is the loss of habitat. And with habitats go species. The legislation should make the destruction of habitat illegal. That’s that, unless the government is to be an agent of extinction.”
“Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek stood up at the press club in July and told us there would be no more extinctions. These reforms lock in the current trajectory for species extinction. The proposed standards are not standards at all but simply vague, fluffy statements allowing anything to pass with the application of offsets.”
“A critical failure of the EPBC Act identified in the Samuel Review was the availability of offsets that allowed developers to destroy threatened species habitat on a promise to restore or plant new habitat. This model clearly failed and, over the last quarter century, greater numbers of Australian species were driven closer to extinction. Under Labor’s new plan, offsets stay but you can instead opt to pay ‘conservation payments’ to offset ‘unacceptable or unsustainable impacts on threatened species, ecological communities or heritage values’ against undefined ‘net positive impacts’ that are not even required to be related to the species of value to be destroyed”.
“We need real environment laws with requirements for ministers to refuse projects that impact threatened species, ecological communities and heritage values, not schemes to allow developers to buy approvals at an unacceptable environmental cost.”